Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Top 5 Go-To Book for Ideas & Inspiration

Whenever I'm searching for inspiration, there are a handful of artful books that never seem to let me down. I'd like to share this shortlist with you in case you too are looking for a few words and pictures to pick you up and get you dreaming.

1. One Thousand Beautiful Things, compiled by Marjorie Barrows, published in 1947 by the People's Book Club. I found this old book in my parents library on February 7th, 2002. Apparently, I immediately recognized it as a treasure because I signed and dated it on the inside cover, and it has traveled with me all the way to Florida. This book is a great companion while sitting in a comfy chair with a glass of wine or cup of coffee. It's chock full of short stories, poems, quotes that you can savor slowly and contemplate. Here's one of my favorite quotes to ponder, by Henry Miller:

"Develop interests in life as you see it; 
in people, things, literature, music - 
the world is so rich, simply throbbing
with rich treasures, beautiful souls, 
and interesting people. Forget yourself."

2. For Spacious Skies, by Eric Sloane. Being a lover of clouds, and a proud member of The Cloud Appreciation Society, I adore Eric Sloane and his books on weather (he has several titles, including Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather, Eric Sloane's Weather Book, Skies and the Artist: How to Draw Clouds and Sunsets, and more!) His stories entertain and inform, while his illustrations make you want to grab for pen and paper. Here's a little tidbit for you:

"Rainy days are regarded as depressing, not conducive to work, 
yet I find that my best writing and painting occurs during the
 lowering pressure of stormy days. When the day is dreary and the falling 
barometer foretells a storm, I hurry home to my studio to make use 
of the "good weather" for working."

3. What It Is, by Linda Barry. I came across this book while browsing Barnes and Noble a few years back. I was drawn to the playful, high school-ish illustrations, but even more so to the deep probing questions that the artist/author was asking. Linda Barry's illustrated journal explores creativity. She asks questions like "what is an idea made of?, "what are we doing when we are looking?"and "how does making art and writing change as we grow up"? Each page of this book is covered in thought-provoking imagery and ideas. Here's a teaser:

"Two questions: Is this good? Does this suck? I'm not sure when these two questions became the only two questions I had about my work, or when making pictures and stories turned into something I called 'my work' --- I just know I'd stopped enjoying it and began to dread it. When I was little, I noticed that making lines on paper gave me a certain floating feeling. It made me feel like I was both there and not there. The lines made a picture and the picture made a story. I wasn't the only kid it happened to. Every kid I knew could do it."


  4. The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton. The title sold me on this book, combining two of my favorite things ever. However, it's not the title alone that puts this book on my shortlist. It's the author's cross-connections between his observations of travel, art, history, literature, philosophy, aesthetics, and science. Each chapter offers meaningful explorations on how travel can enrich life and restore your sense of wonder. Here's a snippet from the beginning:

"If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, the perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest - in all its ardor and paradoxes - than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside the constraints of work and the struggle for survival."


 5.  The Education of the Heart, edited by Thomas Moore. What draws me to this book is how Moore introduces each chapter topic but then lets you assemble the meaning and relationships between all the references within the chapter. It really offers food for thought on a variety of topics pertaining to the mystery of life, allowing plenty of room for interpretation (which inspires me to create!) Here's a one-liner from the introduction:

"Becoming sensitive to the stories embedded in everyday discourse is a useful way to stay in tune with the soul, and a good way to remain sensitive is to read, listen to, tell, write, and illustrate stories of all kinds."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kid in Chief

I'm proud to announce the release of a new book that I illustrated called Kid in Chief, written by Paul Maguire. Read about it and pick up your copy here!